As a parent, we’re always on a scavenger hunt.
Sooner or later you’re going to get that question if you have more than one child in your family.
In our family, this question came as a statement instead of a question. “You like him better than me.” Or, “You always let her do this and not me.”
As a parent, it’s hard to explain to our children that, while we love them equally, how we respond looks different because we need to factor in their different personalities.
Discipline is a good example. My daughter didn’t care if I sent her to her room for misbehaving. She enjoyed being alone in her room to read. My son, on the other hand, dreaded being alone in his room if it wasn’t his choice. So, with my daughter, her consequence would be to remove her reading time (I know, there are children who exist for reading) and her books whereas my son would get a time out in his room.
Now imagine what that looks like to each of them. My son can’t imagine that removing reading time is a punishment and feels unfairly disciplined if he’s sent to his room. And my daughter looks at his time out in his room to be a reward.
I know that when my children started making these statements, I didn’t try to explain my parenting style because it would never work. In fact, I started to sound defensive and validated this belief that I actually had favorites.
So whenever this would happen again, I just kept in mind that each child has a need that needs to be met.
As a parent, we’re always on a scavenger hunt because it’s not always obvious. It’s a cue for us to be patient, stop what we’re doing and focus on what’s going on with our children. Somewhere in our conversation the “aha” moment will come and all’s well again.
Of course, when all else fails, I just tell my kids that Dad is my favorite.
Dr. Mom is a Peninsula mother who works in San Bruno. She has two grown children, has years of parenting experience and spends her time working with families to develop healthy relationships.